Not many fans of the Yellow Jackets are ready to let go of last Saturday's amazing victory over the then No. 9 team in the country. I sure don't. One of the biggest aspects I loved about the game is that from start to finish, Georgia Tech was evenly matched with one of the best teams for four quarters. Florida State is historically strong in recruiting, including a top 10 ranked class in 2016.
Coach Paul Johnson said it best, stating that just because a recruit starts as a 3-star doesn't mean he has to stay there. (I'm paraphrasing.) But he's right. Georgia Tech has become one of the best schools in the country in regards to developing talent. We saw on Saturday as many more players left a ridiculously wounded squad, backups like Step Durham, Shaun Kagawa or Will Bryan come in and compete just as hard as the starters.
So what does that mean for Georgia Tech moving forward to this Saturday and beyond? Though running the table sounds feasible, so did going 6-2 in the first eight games of the season. I contend that this Saturday has to be the Jackets' best effort of the season because you can't follow up beating a top-ranked team like Florida State with a lackluster effort against the Virginia Cavaliers.
As Johnson said, Virginia is a pretty good team. But let's be honest, no one will mistake them for Florida State. Their record does not speak to how they've competed this season, nor does ours. They have fallen to many of the same teams Tech has played. Their out of conference schedule, which included UCLA and Boise State, brings the overall record of the teams to which they've lost to 29-7.
With that said, Tech has to bring that, "Nothing to lose" mentality into this game against the Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia is 2-5. The crowd in Charlottesville will be good, not great. They have good players, but nothing to the level of Dalvin Cook, Josh Sweat or Lamarcus Brutus.
Defensively, the Cavaliers have numerous players with special size and talent. Mike London's defensive line has okay size. They are pretty athletic, but small at the tackles. Senior Kwontie Moore is a run-stopping defensive end who is surprisingly quick for 290 pounds.
In the middle and in the secondary, the Cavaliers are huge. Redshirt-sophomore Micah Kiser has quickly made a name for himself in the ACC has a hard-nosed middle linebacker. At 6-3, 240 pounds, defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta has simplified his scheme for Kizer to just read and react. Flanked by 6-4, 265 pound Mike Moore, and it's easy to see why Virginia's defense has caused problems to offenses this season. The same can be said for Tenuta's secondary, where three of the four starters are over 6-1 and 200 pounds.
So why have the Cavaliers not had as much success as their 2-5 record? Well, the defense has shown better individually in 2015 than as a unit. The lowest amount of points Virginia has given up has been 26. They did that twice in losses to Pittsburgh and North Carolina. They have given up 29 points in a win over FCS William and Mary and 34 in a victory over Syracuse.
Offensively, Virginia wants to establish the run ... sort of. They tend to abandon it relatively quickly, though. Veteran back, Taquan Mizzell leads the team in rushing, but was thought to be more explosive than his average 4.1 yards per carry. Junior quarterback Matt Johns is okay with a completion percentage of 60.t percent. Virginia uses him in the zone-read scheme, even though he is not much of a running threat. (That always baffles me.) Through the run and pass game, Virginia does not offer any explosive threat to the Jackets defense.
Georgia Tech has shown us what they are capable of defensively. A lesser performance against a struggling offense would be a huge setback and ultimately eliminate the good will built up in the win against Florida State. Even though the Jackets have an overall better team, only one game separates them in the win column. Charlottesville will not be anything like the environment created last week for Homecoming at Bobby Dodd, so the Jackets must take the intensity of last week's game to Virginia. So this Saturday will be B.Y.O.S. ... Bring your own Swagger! (Thanks Dabo!)